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The GP's View: Be wary of sharing your data online

Britain's health secretary, Matt Hancock, says sharing health data will allow Amazon to give ‘expert’ advice
Dr Martin Scurr

THERE have been reports that tech companies Amazon and Apple have been recording conversations in private homes via digital assistants Alexa and Siri.

Companies engaged in this sort of activity may claim that their employees are trained to handle customers' data with attention to privacy.

Nevertheless, the revelations will make most of us feel distinctly uneasy – their motivation, first and foremost, is profit, and our information is a precious resource they can monetise.

Hearing, then, that Amazon has free access to NHS information fills me with concern and compounds my distrust, despite assurances that there is no patient data being passed across.

What, then, is the – allegedly anonymised – data being shared for? Britain's health secretary, Matt Hancock, says the move allows Amazon to give ‘expert' health advice. The idea is that patients will be able to talk to Alexa to ask her what to do about their headache, for example.

Enthusiasts point out that it will reduce pressure on the hard-pressed NHS GP and A&E services.

But the health advice – expert or not – will come from a source that is interested in one thing only: your custom. So, beware.

© Solo dmg media

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